Why the Journey to Hot Isn’t Always Healthy
Written by Jackie Mulligan
Healthy. Hot. Fit. Strong. Sexy. Somewhere between endless selfies, “fitspo” hashtags, and Instagram stories, these words have lost their meanings and have instead devolved into an image obsessed, narcissistic culture. Health has become the new sex symbol, and it’s crucial to challenge this misconception. The health of our communities is at stake.
This is a touchy subject, but here it is: Looking “fit” does not necessarily mean you are healthy. Understanding how we arrive at achieving health and feeling beautiful matters. Let’s delve in!
I invite you to think about the problem of hyper-perfected ideals, the potential downsides of chasing aesthetics, and ways you can shift your own body image ideals in a healthier, happier direction. Let’s build our self-esteem and stay sane in a world obsessed with image, shall we?
You’re fit, but are you healthy?
“Health is a state of complete harmony of the body, mind and spirit. When one is free from physical disabilities and mental distractions, the gates of the soul open.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
Health is the absence of illness, a feeling of expansion, resiliency, energy, peace, bursts of confidence, bright eyes and sustainable balance. Pursuing long-term health does not need to feel arduous or unattainable. True health feels good. (*Note, it is important to point out that healing is different.)
Health is the alignment of many facets: It’s how we eat and sleep, manage stress, and interact with community. It’s our desire for personal growth, play, work-life balance and a nourishing environment. Health is an ever-evolving way of life that has no one-size-fits-all template. It is your habitual patterns and behaviors, your mindset, what you do on a daily basis. Have you turned inward lately to question why you do what you do to maintain your health and if you are enjoying the fruits of your labor?
Our body image alone does not indicate our health, but society tells us otherwise. The desire to emulate a particular image can distract us from what health is really all about. We fail by aiming for metrics and end up feeling terrible!
Body fat percentages, cholesterol levels, lab reports, bodyweight, pull-ups per minute, mile times, and waist measurements are not sole indicators of our health. A healthy body has a properly functioning metabolism, the ability to absorb and use nutrients, and the athletic and reproductive fitness necessary for survival.
A body can have all the health markers in place and be free from disease yet still have fat on it– leaving an individual to feel less than ideal by societal norms. On the flipside, an “ideal physique” does not always cross check with health markers. Healthy living can certainly result in an attractive physique, but it doesn’t always work the other way around. Outward appearance is only an approximation of our health or longevity. In short, the best marker of health…is health itself!
Hot or not?
So, what does “hot” mean these days? Lean? Muscular? Shapely? The pursuit of the appearance of health?
Chasing an image becomes draining, can lead to detrimental behavior and is often unattainable. Many of us struggle with body image. In an effort to manage or contain these feelings, we tend to over-exercise, under-nourish, and strive to reach a self-prescribed goal weight that may not align with the what your body needs to thrive. At what cost? Trying to control or manipulate our bodies and how others perceive us often leads to an exhausting downward spiral. We isolate ourselves and adopt addictive behaviors like counting calories, measuring macros, obsessing over the scale, overtraining and constantly comparing ourselves to others or even our past body. Regardless of how we actually feel, the majority of us will be frustrated, angry, and dejected when we don’t reach or sustain our goal; our sense of self-worth becomes skewed.
It’s not entirely our faults. Society’s perceptions of health is influenced by the vibrant, persuasive media. One second, voluptuous is the body ideal, the next it’s an unrealistic waif look…Our happiness has started to be fueled by the billboard we glance at and our Instagram likes. We’ve adopted the “If, then” mindset: “If I have a ripped abs, then I will be happy.”
What’s Really Hot
Let’s start the revolution to redefine hot as confident, honest, self-aware, driven, happy and balanced. While our culture inundates us with suggestions for how to use our bodies – purely for pleasure, as trophies on display, or as subjects that we strictly reign over – what would our lives look like if we took a radical approach and instead treated our bodies as the gifts they are?
Let’s listen to and embrace our body’s natural needs, and prioritize health, rather than social norms that have no business stepping between us and our physical selves!
I invite you choose health: Tune in and get honest about what matters to you. Untether from a culture focused on image. Let go of exhausting, self inflicting, unrealistic goals. Stay in your own lane! Be good to yourself, inside and out, rather than getting clouded by the pursuit of appearance. Find clarity on what you are truly hungry for: self acceptance, food freedom, connection and community. Let health happen.
Ready to take immediate action? Here are some questions to consider:
– What are you doing for your health? How is it working for you?
– How do you measure your health? What are your health markers?
– Who are your health role models? How do you emulate these models?
– Are you chasing an image or a lifestyle? Is it sustainable?
– Where are there gaps in your health?
– What are your health goals? Why have you chosen these goals?
– What are healthy habits you’d like to add to your repertoire?
– What are habits you may consider eliminating?
Jackie Mulligan is a Functional Nutritionist who specializes in creating a love for nutrient-dense, real food that becomes a part of your everyday lifestyle. She educates clients on how to live well; using food as medicine, and by addressing sleep habits and stress management techniques. Using a combination of services that include private one-on-one nutrition consultation for clients all over the world and corporate wellness, Jackie assists her clients with a wide spectrum of health concerns. To learn more about Jackie and the services she offers, visit her site.
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